Monday, 24 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 1

"There isn't a baby to speak of this week. However your body is shedding its uterine lining in preparation for a new cycle. An egg is finishing up the process of ripening this week, but it won't be released from its home in your ovary until ovulation occurs more than a week from now." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I am the woman with irregular periods made worse by previously stressful job with long hours and arduous travels...hardly surprising that I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was in week 1 of my pregnancy! I was probably so busy with my new job at Petronas to even count from my last cycle which started on Father's Day in June 2009.

The family planning Z and I discussed centred around "let's try for a baby before I hit 35 to lessen the chance of Down's Syndrome" and seeing how difficult it has been for some happily married childless friends, we agreed to "start after the wedding and pray hard to Allah for His blessings".

That was pretty much it. We discussed it, agreed upon the policy and got on with the programme. So, when you test positive for pregnancy, chances are it is already week 4 or 6!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Trying for number two is so tough compared to my first pregnancy. I really must pray harder. I did a count, 80% of my pregger buddies in 2010 now have presented their firstborns with siblings respectively - bless!!**

An update as of 27 October 2012: Allah is so kind and prayers are truly miraculous! We are now pregnant with number two - syukur alhamdulillah! This time, I knew for sure that my LMP is 17 September 2012.

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 2

"At this point of your cycle, your baby is still not formed. However, you have a follicle with a ripening egg that is getting ready to be released. Once the egg is released, you have ovulated! During ovulation, the egg has approximately 24 hours in which to be fertilised by sperm. This makes knowing when you ovulate crucial to getting pregnant. It goes without saying that having sex this week is optimal for conception." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.
Sign of ovulation can be as simple as a cramping feeling. We did not know any better at that time but we were on our honeymoon. Enough said.
**Retrospective Wisdom: Trying for the second one is much tougher for us. Totally different set of circumstances and bodily functions! For one, I am still breastfeeding. Having said that, I truly submit to His timing for He knows best when we are all ready to receive His hadiah.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 3

"After a long arduous journey, the egg and sperm have joined. As the cells that are your baby begin to divide, you are blissfully unaware of what is going on in your body. While you may be hoping that these cells are rapidly dividing and heading toward your uterus, you have no way of knowing." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

So true about not knowing!

During the honeymoon, I noticed that my sense of smell went from good to acutely sensitive. Every solat prayer invited hay fever like runny nose and teary eyes so I blamed it on the flowering pots of orchids and gardenias that we had purchased from the nursery in Cameron Highlands. We had them moved from inside the room to the balcony, but still the runny nose and teary eyes did not stop.

I also grew lethargic quickly and took naps almost every afternoon during the honeymoon. We just thought that all the driving around and activity filled days were wearing me out, so I had a really good whole body massage! So indulgent, totally relaxing and rejuvenating for the soul.

Well, little did we know...we had a busy lil one in the making!

**Retrospective Wisdom: If one is already trying for conception, and is within the two week wait, just relax! It really helps not to watch the clock...(and I should be taking my own advice here now that we think we may be ready to receive Allah's blessings of another hadiah).**

Recipe: Longan & Red Dates Tea

Expressed breast milk stored by freezing at -18C in Avent VIA cups. Takes 48 hours to thaw out 5 to 6 oz in the fridge set at 0C.

Syukur Alhamdulillah!
Red dates tea -  sweet, warm drink increased my breastmilk supply and improved overall vitality. I drink this daily during confinement, and still occasionally do when my energy is low.

Kudos to "Nyoya Flavours - A Complete Guide to Penang Straits Chinese Cuisine". Editing and Food Styling by Julie Wong; Main Recipe Contributor & Tester by Debbie Teoh and Food Photography by Bonnie Yap & Yap Chee Hong. New Edition Copies available at Popular & Kinokuniya.

If I may just reproduce the drink recipe here for the benefit of breastfeeding mothers and new mothers, simply because I have greatly benefitted from this recipe and keep having to email them to friends and readers alike:

"150 g dried longan
50 g pitted red dates, halved
50 g tong sam, cut into 3cm (1 inch) length
2 litres water

1. Wash and drain longan, dates and tong sam then place into a medium sized pot with the water.

2. Bring to rapid boil then simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Taken throughout the confinement month to substitute for drinking water, this pleasant drink helps the new mother in maintaining general well-being, and is said to increase the flow of milk in a breastfeeding mother. Tong sam, available from chinese medical halls, is also known as "poor man's ginseng" and plays a role in enhancing blood circulation."

I had mine boiled in the morning and kept warm in a thermos flask, sipped preciously throughout the day. On hot days, I have had supplies of more than 2 litres in hand!

Confession: I used to be able to express 2 to 3 oz in the early days of breastfeeding (those crazy, stressful days of not being totally sure if I was producing sufficiently to meet demand) but by 6th week, the yield had increased in tandem with The Little Girl's increase of appetite. Now with Bean, I am able to express 5 to 6 oz every 6 hourly *sujud to Allah in thanksgiving!*

Tip #1: My tong sam was purchased from a medical hall in One Utama and Pavilion called Eternal Cash Medical Hall. Tong sam is a type of "radix codonopsis" plant root.

Tip #2: I use the IKEA Stabil 3L pot with pasta boil insert to keep the ingredients boiling or simmering but simpler to strain by just lifting the insert when ready. Just be sure to use a metal strainer when carefully pouring hot liquid out of the pot into a thermos flask.

Tip #3: Red Date Tea Extract claiming to be 5x more potent is now available from Moon's (Daveleen (M) Sdn. Bhd. at No. 43, Jalan SS2/3, 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia. Tel: +6037877800 ) Read also Falling in Love with Confinement by Peiling Goh. Personally, I have not ordered any products from this company as they are not certified halal so I cannot vouch for its potency, taste etc. However, some of the dishes suggested during confinement are simple to cook and delicious (I always replace pork dishes with halal cuts of chicken).

**now excuse me while I answer a milk-call**

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 4

"This is the first week that you are sure that your baby is in there, though what is going on is still very hard to see. Even with high-tech ultrasound equipment, you would be lucky to see the gestational sac - the small bubble where your baby is busy forming and growing this week. Using a transvaginal ultrasound, which is an ultrasound done from inside your vagina is your only hope of seeing it at this point in pregnancy.

In that gestational sac, you will also have a yolk sac forming. This will help feed your baby until the placenta has fully formed around the end of the first trimester.

At the end of week 4, the chorionic villi are completely formed. These are finger-like projections of placental tissue. they contain the same genetic material as your baby and can be helpful later for genetic testing." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I had reported to work at Petronas the week before and was so pre-occupied with the lovely job I had that I did not notice anything different about the changes that were going on in my body. Besides, we were preparing for the coming month of Ramadhan and I was excited about my first time fasting as a Muslimah!

On 10 August 2009, I noticed that my period was already late by about 2 weeks so after work, I went home and did a routine urine test using home test kit for pregnancy. This turned out positive. My heart leaped with joy!

Being home alone (Z was on his way home and I did not want to ring him while he was driving), I went into a somewhat crazy mode of "this is too good to be true!" so I did another urine test using another brand of home test kit for pregnancy. This turned out positive too!

By the time Z walked into The Apartment, I could not contain the happiness anymore and blurted almost too loudly "We're pregnant!!". He was a little shocked but overjoyed and started to celebrated in his collected and calm ways.

Just to be triple sure, we did the last test for the evening together. After dinner, during solat Isya', we gave our thanksgiving to Allah for His gift and prayed for a safe pregnancy.

Personally, I felt deeply grateful to Allah for this new journey!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Testing with different brands of home pregnancy test kit is normal. Go indulge!** 

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 5

"One way to measure a baby this size is called crown to rump (CRL). from the crown, or top of your baby's head, to the bottom (rump), your baby measures about 1.5 to 2.5 milimetres by the end of this week. Very small, but very busy.

A couple of major milestones happen this week. Your baby's heart begins to beat and the neural folds (the folds of tissue that become the brain and spinal cord) are fusing. This means that you can almost begin to differentiate the head from the tail (a vestige that reabsorbs into the body as the baby becomes a fetus). However even with ultrasound, you still may not see as much as you'd like." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I had just adjusted to working life at Petronas and liking the portfolio I was managing when a life changing incident shifted my priorities. Part of my routine duties include going to the lubricant blending plant in Malacca to resolve legal matters and issues.

On 18 August 2009, I drove Bebe to Malacca for one of such meetings. Upon arrival, I went to the water closet before the start of what was to be an all day meeting. What I saw that morning shocked and rocked me to my inner core.


Immediately, I texted my GP (had yet to select an Ob-Gyn!) for advice. He replied that I was to remain calm and go to the nearest ER at any good private hospital near by. The nearest good private hospital is located in Malacca town, another good 40 minutes' drive away!

Not wanting to cause another delay to an already late tender issue for the lubricant plant's expansion, I sat down to chair the meeting and tried to remain calm whilst praying hard that everything would be alright for the lil life that was growing within me.

The meeting ended at 6pm and I drove back to KL in the thunderstorm. Z agreed with me that any good private hospital in KL would be better than in Malacca, especially if I were to be admitted.

The nearest private hospital to The Apartment is Gleneagles Ampang. After a quick dinner and solat isya', we drove to Gleneagles Ampang and was made to wait 3 hours before the Medical Officer saw me. It was the peak of Swine Flu too and we had to sit there uncomfortably at the not-so-ER wearing masks!

The Medical Officer "dismissed" that the slight bleeding could be caused by implantation bleeding and I was given a steroid injection to stabilise the fetus. A referral and appointment to the Ob-Gyn was made for the following morning.

The following morning at the ObGyn's office, I was made to wait another 3 hours for a transvaginal ultrasound. We saw Jr's gestational sac and a beating dot a.k.a. the heart.

Thankful that everything was alright, I was so deeply moved that an auto-assessment of what is really important to me in my life kickstarted. Career versus Baby. The plans for me to be based out of Europe for a few months in my professional capacity kind of flew out of the window of my Petronas Tower 1 office as I could not imagine coping with my first pregnancy alone in Italy. Forget the joy of working. Forget all the handbags and shoes designers. Forget all the beautiful sites to visit with Z.

By the way, I swore not to return to Gleneagles Ampang if I could simply because I did not enjoy the long wait!
**Retrospective Wisdom: When Allah presents an opportunity, He may also present another opportunity. What you choose is your trust in Him that He will Provide.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 6

"From the crown to rump, your baby measures about 4 to 6 milimetres. Still very small but working very hard, including a beating heart!

Your baby's heart is circulating blood through its tiny body though the heart is still a bulge in the front of the body. It will eventually move into the chest cavity. The cells that will become your baby's stomach, liver, lungs and pancreas are also present. In other big news, at the end of this week, the upper and lower limb buds will appear. Your baby is also working on developing its inner ear and larynx.

The placenta is working too. It is getting ready to take over the production of hormones from the corpus luteum, which is a spot on the ovary where you ovulated. Though this won't happen for about another six weeks, plans are in place now.

An ultrasound at this point would reveal a fetal pole with a heartbeat in 86 per cent of the cases and 100 per cent would see a yolk sac. If your midwife or doctor doesn't see what they think they should, you may not be as far along in your pregnancy as you had believed. You will most likely be asked to repeat the transvaginal ultrasound in a few weeks." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

It was beginning of my most lethargic days coupled with inability to keep any food or liquid down. Morning sickness for me was an all day sickness. Needless to say, I was on medical leave on most days, spent in bed and the only place I went to was probably the sink! Demands of a full time job were totally against the grain of this pregnancy, sadly. PukeFest was the most apt title for the week.

After obtaining a few referrals and word of mouth, we decided to "test" Dr Haris Hamzah at Sime Darby Subang Medical Centre and found him to be a suitable and qualified Ob-Gyn. The ultrasound scan of Jr confirmed the pregnancy, well being of a growing fetus and estimated due date.

We broke the news to Mama and Dada over dinner at Penang Village in KLCC. They were gladly surprised at the speed we conceived Jr during the honeymoon too but thankful nonetheless! With Kakak's 5th baby to arrive in January 2010 and Junior following suit in April 2010, the grandparents were really busy...

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 22 August 2009:

CRL: 4.8 milimetres
**Retrospective Wisdom: Staying in bed with morning sickness is NOT wrong. NOT lazy. It is a blessing in disguise. Read all the books that you have always wanted to and listen to all the soothing music you have forgotten about in years gone by - there is no time after the baby arrives!**
Thursday, 20 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 7

"Your baby is growing rapidly and developing organs. This week your baby is working on its kidneys along with other organs. The CRL is about 7 to 9 milimetres. Finger rays (the equivalent of pre-fingers) are also forming.

While your baby is a girl or boy from the moment of conception, you can't physically distinguish the sex yet, even though the genital tubercle (what will become the penis or clitoris) is present.

Your baby's face is not very baby-like yet. This week the nasal pits are developing and the eyes are very large and lidless. The intestines are forming inside the umbilical cord and will move into your baby's abdomen.

If you were to have an ultrasound at this point in your pregnancy and you were really in your 7th week, you should see a fetal pole with a heartbeat. If you don't chances are you are not as far along as you thought and a repeat ultrasound in a week's time will tell a different story." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

We celebrated National Day and Ramadhan had also begun. As I am pregnant, it is not compulsory for me to fast. Opting for medical reasons, I did not fast and with PukeFest on 24/7, I was more concerned with keeping liquid down, preventing dehydration and not so much fascination with food.

The aroma from kitchen, perfume and almost anything with smell (especially uncooked meat, and food court stench) drove me to the sink. The need to urinate very often also confined me to the house for most part of the time.

Petronas was advised of my delicate, almost frail condition and I started to work from home with the office despatch coming to drop and collect assignments. The really short distance between office and home worked in favour of both despatch and I! The emails contained various drafts, agreements, resolutions and opinions were exchanged at such fast pace no one would have believed that I was working from home and attending PukeFest with a free season pass.
The thought of resigning in order to be fair to the only Fortune500 company in Malaysia weighted heavily and became our daily home debate topic. A family poll was finally taken and after long consult, we decided it is best for Petronas and my pregnancy for me to resign despite the objection from my very kind and understanding colleagues and Boss. If the rezeki is mine, I will return in future.
**Retrospective Wisdom: No regrets about the resignation, except on days when I need some adult/professional/intellectual discussion. It was is the correct, pro-life choice for having The Little Girl.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 8

"Your baby is nearly a centimetre long CRL. This is when the gonads become specifically testes or ovaries. Last week, fingers were big; this week it's toes. In addition to toes, your baby's bones are beginning to harden in spots, known as ossification. Your baby is starting to develop elbows.

One of the most thrilling developments this week is that spontaneous movement begins. This means that your baby is beginning to use the joints and will try to wave, kick and flip. An ultrasound now reveals quite the little acrobat even when you can't feel all that is going on inside your body - a very odd sensation indeed." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I was "happy" because this was going to be the last week at work. I spent my 09.09.09 being freed from employment! Alas, my inner peace and happiness did not match my outward suffering as I was still at PukeFest.

The only time I could keep food down was between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. From 2 p.m. till 9 a.m the following morning was just plain misery. Z had to rub my back in an upward motion only to assist me in bringing up the food because without the rubs, I would gag and choke in my own vomit! It was certainly a disgusting experience and one where you can test your spouse's loyalty *Z passed with flying colours*

Besides that, I could hardly sleep through the night without trips to the toilet to empty my bladder. My only comfortable sleeping position was the "three quarter sit up" with lots of pillows to support my back. Occasionally, heartburn would rule the night. and I had to resort to solving crossword puzzles to distract myself. Needless to say, I had to catch up on sleep during the day time whenever I could.

Food I could eat were limited to Jacob's Weetameal crackers, warm ginger drink, hot chicken soup (boiled with red dates and ginger only). Amazingly, I could eat whatever I was craving for without throwing up at any time of the day (sambal petai and shrimps with plain rice or Whopper Jr. from Burger King - so not the food to eat during pregnancy!!).

My nipples started to dry and crack from all the stretching and growing with veins looking more apparent - a good sign for breastfeeding, perhaps? I bought larger bras and nipple soothing cream to cope with the rapid growth. My waist started to disappear too and pregnancy pants with adjustable waistband really helped.

Did I feel pregnant?

Not really. I only felt mostly sick!

Did I look pregnant?

No! I looked like I overate! Z was very comforting when he said "Big is beautiful, darling!"
Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 4 September 2009:
CRL: 16.1 milimetres

**Retrospective Wisdom: Virgin Coconut Oil, Bio Oil etc. all worked beautifully for me. I started applying those diligently after every shower early on in the pregnancy and now have relatively little stretch marks!**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 9

"Your baby is continuing to grow and develop. After a growth spurt, your baby now measures about thirteen to seventeen milimetres CRL. The toe rays are beginning to have toes and they are wriggling more.

If you were to look via ultrasound at your baby at this point, you would see the arms and legs and the baby moving. If you were to touch the outside of the uterus, your baby's home, your baby would move away from the touch.

The organ systems are still growing and the cones are still hardening. This work will continue for weeks to come."

This was the week I could stay at home peacefully (without work and deadlines from a dream job I so love, sigh) and catch up on my much needed rest. PukeFest was still in town but encouraging chats, messages and emails from friends really helped. Bloated and tired were two words best described me at week 9.

One nightmare that sent chills down my neck was one where I had my period and there were so much blood I thought I had lost the baby. I woke up in the middle of the night sweating, recited my shahadah and went back to sleep. The next day, I took another urine test just to see that the two lines were still there for reassurance, silly me! Needless to say, I was so relieved to see those two lines, syukur endlessly.
**Retrospective Wisdom: Pregnancy hormones or not, all my worst, vivid nightmares carried on throughout the entire pregnancy. As a reminder to self: Wise to say prayer for protection before sleeping next time.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 10

"The baby's head is still a large protion of the total body but your baby is more recognisably human this week. Measuring about 3.5 centimetres CRL your baby is growing quickly. The tiny toes that you long to count are now formed. Your baby's ears are formed, even on the outside. The baby's eyes are still open but the eyelids are beginning to fuse. Once fused, they will stay fused until about 25 to 27 weeks into your pregnancy.

While your baby doesn't weight much at just about 4 grams or about 4 paper clips, it is a good start!

As your baby enters the fetal period this week, you quietly pass an important milestone. All the major organs are nearly completely formed. The risk of major malfunctions are over, although your continued care and attention is still needed for the subtle yet crucial processes such as brain functioning, cognitive development, reflex growth and breathing development." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

During the scan, we saw Jr's fingers and toes, strong pumping heart and limbs with cute round head. The mini baby looking Jr melted my heart and for the first time, I felt "really pregnant" and not just "kinda pregnant"!

The kind ob-gyn, Dr Haris Hamzah, also wrote an opinion addressed to Petronas about my hyperemesis gravidarium condition and that rest is the best solution. He also topped up my Obimin supplements, a once daily easy to swallow tablet. Never in my life have I been so diligent in taking my tablets, I confess.

The eager grandparents started planning nursery furniture by scouting IKEA to hunt for suitable changing table and cots. We decided on buying a changing table each for The House and The Apartment. As Z's cot (used 27 years ago and still in mint condition - just needs a new coat of paint and new mattress) would be the hand-me-down item; along with the cot previously used by Kakak's children, Safiyah and Ibrahim.
**Retrospective Wisdom: Human memory truly is amazing. I can still picture The Little Girl's 10 fingers and 10 toes so vividly. So does The Other Half.**
Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 11

"At this stage of development, the baby's head is approximately half the size of his or her body. This is very normal. at the time of birth, your newborn's head will still be a good portion of the body because of the brain growth going on.

Your baby is continuing to grow this week, now weighing in at about seven grams, which is the equivalent to seven paper clips. It's hard to imagine something so tiny having all the parts your baby has. This week we add finger nails to the list. Your baby will also spend some time this week developing the iris, the coloured portion of the eyes that controls light intake. Your baby's eye colour is genetically determined, although it can be hard to tell what colour it will be at birth, as it takes time for it to develop.

If you were to have a pre-natal appointment this week, you would most likely be able to hear your baby's heartbeat with a Doppler." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

This was the week Mama and I started to plan out the simple birthday celebrations at home for Dada. It will also mark their 40th wedding anniversary the following week. The plans were limited by the types of food and drink I can consume (without throwing up) so we chose homemade steamboat seafood.
My bladder was also affected by the pregnancy and frequent trips to the toilet discouraged me from staying out for too long. All I could think of was "Home sweet home!". Daily naps were averagely from 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. and on some days I felt so lethargic/tired I would go to bed at 8.30 p.m. and only rise the following morning at 8.30 a.m. All my waking hours were spent either trying to eat or cleaning up after vomitting. Nausea ruled the rest of the day...but I consoled myself that this could only last 40 weeks at worst!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Keeping clean sinks and toilet bowls are compulsory if you as going through "morning sickness" (which in my case was 24/7 sickness). If public toilets aggravate your sickness, avoid visiting them. **

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 12

"Weighing at fourteen grams this week, your baby is growing by leaps and bounds. The total length from head to toe is about 9 centimentres. While growing, your baby is also moving around and practising moves that are both spontaneous and that involve reflexes.

The structure of your baby's brain is now in place. What will happen between week 11 and birth is a period of rapid growth. After birth, babies undergo a dramatic spurt of brain growth until it begins to slow in their toddler years." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

This was the week we celebrated Dada's birthday and the 40th wedding anniversary of Mama and Dada. Whilst the baby's moves could not be felt yet and I was still nauseated all the time with occasional throwing up, they cheered me on in my somewhat "tough pregnancy" and tried feeding me with delicious and healthy food. We even put up a sumptous spread of homemade steamboat seafood dinner for the birthday boy!

Sleeping and waking up a few times in the night to either adjust my back or trips to the toilet began to lessen. Somewhat in the blink of an eye, the first trimester came to an end and we embraced the second trimester, praying and hoping that the baby would be better "behaved" and torture me less.

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 5 October 2009:

BPD: 1.9 centimetres

CRL: 6.32 centimetres
**Retrospective Wisdom: Curl up with a good book or reconnect with an old hobby to rediscover your inner self. Once the baby arrives, and you miss having your own time, you can then look back and cherish this "baby burp and diaper free days". Enjoy!**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 13

"Your baby is blissfully unaware that you both have moved on to the second trimester. He or she is just happily paddling around inside your uterus. Even though their babies weigh in at about an ounce now, most mothers still cannot feel their movements.

Other internal happenings include the intestines moving into the abdoment from the umbilical cord. The intestines are also working on their internal structure as the villi form inside. The villi help the baby with digestion by encouraging food to move inside the intestines for the rest of the baby's life. In other intestinal news, the pancreas has started secreting insulin. Your baby also has all 20 teeth formed under the gums." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

A baby bump became more apparent and fundus height also increased slightly. Bigger bras and shorts were called for! We continued looking for suitable changing table with no successful purchases.

The nausea lessened slightly and throwing up started to reduce from a few times in a day to once or twice in a day. Smells became less offensive and I could resume some light cooking preparation work with Mama. When I was not sick, I spent time weeding and raking in the garden, under strict supervision from either Mama or Dada as they did not want any untoward incidents.

This week also marked that it has been just over a month since I left gainful employment. The only thing I missed was the salary and since money is not everything, I guess I was not missing as much as I thought I would have!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Taking time out to weigh out your available options is not procastinating and time-wasting. Commit only to purchases you like and can well afford, works for you and do not be stressed out by all the options available. Happy shopping!**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 14

"Your baby is just about 13 centimetres long! Your baby's kidneys are producing urine, which is being excreted into the amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby inside the uterus. Amniotic fluid allows your baby to move about the uterus, practising flips and turns. Your baby also "breathes" the liquid in and out to practice for extrauterine life. amniotic fluid is the ultimate renewable resource, replacing itself every few hours." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I could not really feel the baby's flips and turns exactly but there were times when lying down to sleep at night when I felt what was like flutter of butterfly wings or gas moving about in my uterus. Z, of course, could not feel it when he placed his palms over my uterus/formerly belly area.

The search for car seat and stroller also begun but no commitments were made just yet as we prefer to research a bit more and wait for the year end sale. With the average price of RM1,000 per item, I thought even a meagre 30% savings on each item would still amount to savings of precious ringgits!

The various tests done by Dr. Haris Hamzah have all returned favourable results but we continued to pray for a healthy and perfectly formed baby. My urine tests revealed some trace of protein requiring me to rest more. There is no glucose in urine which is a good sign. When I started complaining of cramps that ran along my left leg, Dr. Haris Hamzah immediately prescribed calcium with vitamin D supplements on top of New Obimin that I have been taking since Week 5.

My liking for mineral water that disappeared since Week 5 have yet to return. Although I was slightly worried about not drinking the recommended 8 glasses of water, Dr. Haris Hamzah assured me that as long as I am drinking juice, milk or other non-caffeine drinks, the baby would be just fine. Every time I "smuggled" mineral water into my system, the baby seems to react by making me really nauseated or throw up within minutes. From a person who drinks only luke warm or sans ice drinks, I turned into a cold or iced drinks only person! Ribena and iced lemon green tea were my favourites...
**Retrospective Wisdom: Wait for the sale, if you can/have time to wait it out. The baby fair may be well worth a visit or two as vendors put out their best wares at discounted prices for all the "New-Mother-Likey-New-Father-Pay" items. Happy shopping!**

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 15

"If you were to catch a glimpse of your baby today, it would look very different from a newborn. You would see a very thin skinned baby the size of a Barbie doll. The skin is so thin that you can see the blood vessels peeking through. This is also one of the last weeks that you can see most of the baby in one image of an ultrasound. Past this point, your baby is simply too big.

The scalp hair pattern has developed, cowlicks and all. Your baby still only weighs about 70 grams, or the weight of 70 paper clips, which is light for such a long body. However, remember that body fat is one of the last things to develop on your baby. The good news is that your baby's heart is pumping blood, nearly 25 quarts a day! That may sound like a lot, but by the time of his or her birth day arrives that number will be about 300 quarts." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

During our routine medical check up, we still tested positive for traces of protein in my urine but Dr. Haris Hamzah was not too concerned as it was minimal. I was asked to rest more. Also during the ultrasound scan, we were told that the baby is likely to be a girl because we could not get a clear view of the baby's private parts. Dr. Haris Hamzah however could not confidently conclude that is not a boy either so we just have to wait until the next scan. Boy or girl does not matter because we saw a very active and growing baby! The 4 chambers of the mini pumping healthy heart melted mine...

Trips to the grocers' or malls became shorter as I got tired more easily. Fruits intake were limited to day time because every time I consumed fruits at night time, I would throw up almost immediately (for unknown reasons!). I was beginning to drink lesser liquid more often as my bladder was somewhat "less tolerable". Car trips were slowly becoming less stressful as I could now reasonably tolerate the distance between Shah Alam and KLCC.

Measurement taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 26 October 2009:

BPD: 3.09 centimetres
**Retrospective Wisdom: We are glad we prayed for a safe pregnancy and healthy child throughout. His Blessings is a truly wonderful gift.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 16

"You are not the only one going to the bathroom every hour. Your baby's bladder fills and empties about once an hour from this point. This is good practice for your baby's kidneys. Sometimes via an ultrasound if you catch your baby at the right time, you can even witness this. Around now, sometimes ultrasound can begin to hazard a guess as to whether your baby is a girl or a boy. However, there are more mistakes earlier, so take a guess now with a grain of salt.

Your baby still only weight about 85 grams and is over 15 centimetres long. His or her features are becoming more babyish. One good example is that the eyes and ears are assuming a more normal placement. Your baby also has complete fingernails at this point." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

What was flutter before became more clear to me as kicks and it was a joy to feel these movements! Everytime I laid down on my left side and felt relaxed, I could feel them. Z could not really feel them yet so it became almost an exclusive experience, albeit slightly unfair to the eager daddy-to-be.

My food cravings list by now included (greasy and spicy food which I usually avoid *gasp*) Burger King's Whopper Jr., pisang emas, keropok lekor, tempura ebi, curry laksa, sambal petai udang, chocolates, acar awak and sambal udang. It was a weird sensation of obsessing over a particular type of food and once my craving had been satisfied, I never thought of it again.

Body size wise, I was definitely bigger and clumsier. I once slipped in the bathroom at The Apartment while trying to clean it and resolved not to "endanger" myself and the baby in such a manner again (Z had to take over the chores of cleaning in wet areas).

The headaches that were bugging me earlier have disappeared and I was beginning to feel better with less nausea. The throwing up count reduced from all day affair to merely a few times per week, hooray!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Rest, rest and rest! Enlist extra domestic helpers if you need to.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 17

"It has been 15 weeks since conception. Your baby weighs about 142 grams and is roughly the same size as the placenta at this point. From here on, your baby will surpass the placenta in size, although the placenta continues to grow.

Brown fat is the substance that helps keep your baby warm after birth. It is built up under the skin. This week your baby started laying down some brown fat which will continue to develop until birth.

Your baby is developing reflexes in the uterus. One of the big milestones this week is that your baby can hear loud noises outside the uterus. You may actually feel your baby startle when you hear a loud or sudden noise." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

One morning just after flushing the toilet, I felt a "big kick" or what I interpreted to be a startle. It had been 2 months since I stopped work and I felt so grateful to Z for allowing me to be a stay at home mother-to-be. I could rest as much as I needed to without office deadlines!
Afternoon naps were regular to boost my energy levels. This was also the wetter period with daily rainfall in the evenings so gardening had to be postponed.

It has become my habit now to check for any bleeding or spotting, back or abdominal pain, contractions, gush of fluid from vagina and breast size. Z had to give me more back rubs to ease the backache too!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Those naps may look so indulgent at that point but looking back, I am so glad I took all the siesta I could! There is comparatively no rest once the baby is born.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 18

"Your baby is growing fingerprints. The finger and toe pads are growing, and the swirls and whorls that are characterised as hers and hers alone have started to grow.

Your baby is continuing the process of ossification, or hardening of the bones. This does not mean your baby is becoming heavyweight quite yet but at 200 grams, your baby is gaining weight at a much more rapid pace than before." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

I have had round ligament pain for a few weeks now as the ligament stretches, thins and becomes tense like a rubber band. This is the ligament that anchors the uterus. As I took on a more rounded look, I started shopping for a few more maternity tops too. Seriously, I preferred resting at home to shopping!

Mama and I tried looking for more confinement food recipes and compiled them for trying in the next few weeks. As I consume only halal food, alas, those convenient looking delivery services will not ever work for me.
Highlight of the week? Kakak was due in January 2010, we went to Mothercare to look for baby gifts for the new baby boy in Yorkshire, England.
**Retrospective Wisdom: If you feel like resting, just do it! Do not overburden your growing body and baby by doing more than you can take on.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 19

"During pregnancy, your baby has been growing sex organs. Mature sperms won't appear in the male testes until after puberty but if you are having a girl, she is developing primitive egg cells already. At birth, she will already carry every egg she will ever have in her lifetime.

Your baby weight about 225 grams and is covered in fur. The good news is that most of this fine hair or lanugo will disappear before birth. You will occasionally see small patches of hair on the lower back as long sideburns. Your baby is also working on baby teeth this week." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Occasionally, I would feel the baby hardening up in my uterus once or twice daily. This is known as Braxton-Hicks contractions, so I was told. It is the baby's way of practising for vaginal birth and that there is nothing to worry about unless it is more than 6 contractions per hour.

One evening at about 10 p.m. when we were about to retire, I started having such contractions. I started counting and when the number got to 6 in 30 minutes, we rang the hospital. The polite and knowledgeable nurse/telephonist at the 24 hour hot line of the hospital asked standard questions and after assessing our situation, we were asked to check into the ER.

By 10.40 p.m. when we left The House, I have had 8 contractions. Mama and Dada looked worried as we left. Z promised to update them via SMS. During the car ride to the hospital, Z and I kept talking to the baby to ask the baby to behave and relax. We kept telling the baby that as excited as we were to meet him or her, it was just not time yet! The pep talk seemed to work as there was only 1 more contraction by 11 p.m. bringing the total to 9.

I was whisked into ER in a wheelchair and after a quick blood pressure assessment by the attending nurse, I was put onto the observation ward. Medical Officer for the night rang Dr. Haris Hamzah for a quick consult. As the Doppler showed 155 fetal heartbeats (which is within the normal range), we felt less panicky. A thorough urine test was also done to rule out infections. The results were negative so we were more calm by then.

After 2 hours of further observation, I was discharged. We went home tired and sleepy. Mama was waiting up for us and after a quick supper, we all finally went to bed for a very short rest before the drive to a mini holiday.

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 28 November 2009:

BPD: 4.65 centimentres

Head circumference: 17.15 centimetres

Abdominal circumference: 14.09 centimetres

Femur length: 2.8 centimetres
**Retrospective Wisdom: Do not fear looking like  a hypochondriac  for having any abnormal symptoms examined, even if the results show that everything is fine.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 20

"Your baby weight in this week at about 285 grams, lighter than your average bottled drink! While your baby is still not very big weight-wise, he or she is about 25 centimetres long, roughly the size of a Barbie doll.

In addition to the fine hair called lanugo, your baby is covered in a thick creamlike material called vernix which is made from skin cells. The vernix will cling to the lanugo and stick in the folds of your baby's skin. If the baby is born prematurely, you will see quite a bit of the vernix. If your baby is born at term or after, you see very little. You can sometimes find vernix in a baby's ears or in the creases at the arms and legs." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.
Week 20 marked the half way point of pregnancy and we celebrated by taking a road trip to Penang with the family. Apart from feeling tired easily/getting swollen feet from walking too much/feeling less tolerant of the heat/getting sore back from standing a little too long, I was fine.

I was beginning to eat well with no nausea and PukeFest seemed to have left town. Alas, most of the good Penang food in Penang are not halal so we stuck to halal franchised or hotel food. I dare vouch that it is easier to find good halal Penang food in the Klang Valley!!

We started to purchase a few necessary items for Jr (mittens, boots, onesies, changing mat and such) after learning that I could possibly be too tired in the third trimester to be out shopping! The car seat hunt was on as it would be compulsory to install one in the car to take Jr home from the hospital. As it would be unlikely that I would be out with Jr in the mall on my own in the first 6 weeks from the time Jr is born, we decided to only purchase the stroller when Jr is around for a test drive.

Jr was well behaved throughout the trip without Braxton-Hicks and PukeFest *star star* giving us the confidence to travel more than the distance of Shah Alam-KLCC!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Car seat and stroller reviews and recommendations from friends with children who can give you a test drive with the baby or toddler in those items are more informative/useful/credible than some online comments. Always try these items in your vehicle and car boot for a good feel of weight handling and actual size before purchasing.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 21

"Your baby has been growing and growing, This week, your baby weighs in at about 370 grams, just shy of a pound. Your pregnancy is halfway through, and your baby still has a lot of weight to gain which will be his or her primary focus during the second half of your pregnancy.

Right now your baby is able to move throughout the uterus, flipping at will. Due to the increase in baby's weight, his or her movements will feel bigger, which can feel strange at times." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

My feet would swell sometimes during the day and I could no longer fit into my flat pumps. Luckily, I have a pair of Clarks' flat slip-on that is pretty enough for the malls but if ever invited to anything formal, a shoe shopping trip will be required!

My belly has also swelled considerably more than the weeks preceding this. The same people who met me and said "So small" would now comment "You have grown!". It felt weird to bloat up so suddenly but as long as Jr is doing well, I would not complain.

The increase in size inevitably led to shopping for bigger maternity clothes and bras. Luckily for me, the year end sale was on and we could purchase items for much less. Z and I also bought more baby items to pack for the baby bag eventually.

This was probably the week that also marked an increase in backache frequency for me, calling for more back rubs from Z! The rice sock that MIL stitched for me was put back on duty too.

Z and I have been conversing with Jr at night before we go to sleep and Jr would reply with kicks. At times when Jr tenses up, Z would place his hands over my belly and sing a short lullaby. Comfortingly, that seems to calm Jr down without fail *phew*
**Retrospective Wisdom: Those tensing up were Braxton-Hicks. I was soooooooooo silly not to recognise them right away.**
Saturday, 15 September 2012

Her own toddler bed

The Other Half and I have been sleeping with getting hit on our face/nose/torso in the middle of the night by having The Little Girl in the middle of our king size bed since she was about 6 months old.  
Now that she is 29 months old, we decided to try her out on her own toddler bed from IKEA placed beside our bed on my side.
It has been 3 nights (only) and it is great (so far)! She still wakes up for the occasional direct breastfeeding (but hooray, less times!). With the guard rails and pillow boundaries, she has not fallen off her bed yet, alhamdulillah!
Praying she will stay safe there. The Other Half and I are just pleased to have our king size bed back to ourselves, hehehe. Someday soon, she may just ask for the bed to be moved into her own room *wishful thinking*
Happy sleeping, baby!

Snack time, yums!

The Little Girl loves her snacks, which is why I love this healthy, organic on-the-go convenient packs with Ziploc reseals.

At RM17 per 20g bag, I am thinking of drying sliced organic apples at 50 degrees Celcius in the oven for 6 hours, like how we make sun dried tomatoes. Then again, electricity costs may also come up to RM17 per batch *tsk tsk tsk*.

Any tips for this Hampshire Mummy that you can kindly share?

Ding dong! Another brown box...

With the increasing "street and car park" crime rate in Malaysia, it is inevitable that The Other Half prefers that I shop online when he is not free to go shopping with me.

From reliable deliveries of groceries, clothes, tudung, accessories, shoes to designer handbags. Yes, it is safer than being out there... oh, I sometimes miss walking and browsing!

Now, now.

Reality check.

In the name of "perceived safety", especially with The Little Girl to distract me aplenty when buckling her into her car seat, we'll just stay online for now.

Happy shopping!

Note: Use secure online payment systems only!

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 22

"It is hard to imagine that your baby who started out as two merging cells has grown so big. Your baby is practicing many of the skills that he or she will need after birth. This practice time is important for your baby. Your baby has been busy with reflexes, breathing and even sucking.

This week, your baby weighs in at nearly 450 grams. This is a huge gain from the beginning, when the weight was measured in terms of paper clips! Your baby is also nearly 20 centimetres long. Remember that your baby has a lot of growing up to do before birth." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

More mid mornings and afternoons were spent with my feet higher than my head in bed to reduce swelling. Occasionally, I had to pass on following my parents-in-law to the shops as my feet would be too swollen or I felt tired even after night of sufficient sleep.

Backache seemed to concentrate on the left side of my middle back and after a period of resting, it would go away. As I did not have any blurred vision or headaches, Dr. Haris was not too concerned with pre-eclampsia.

Mama started trying out some confinement food and drinks recipe. We enjoyed making and consuming the staple ginseng chicken soup and red dates tea. It was quite amusing to see a very confused "sinseh" at the medical hall when we purchased the herbs. The sight of two ladies in tudung (one Chinese and one Irish) with a Malay man asking for traditionally chinese herbs must be rare! We did not try all the other confinement recipes that would contract the womb, fearing that I may experience Braxton-Hicks again.

Exercise is important for a healthy pregnancy so I kept to my routine of weeding and gardening whenever the weather permits. Occasionally I would skip it altogether or cut down on the time spent in the garden whenever I felt tired. Posture is important too so I had to practice caution and safety first. Sometimes, I would hear Dada saying "H, you would not be allowed to squat like that in the kampung", reminding me to correct my posture and remain seated on the stool.

Z and I continued singing and conversing with Jr every night; it has become a routine that we look forward to. Jr's movements have became stronger and harder too, pleasing us no end.
**Retrospective Wisdom: The singing and talking to the "cargo" works. When The Little Girl was first born, she recognised Daddy's voice right away during her first azan and salawat!**
Friday, 14 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 23

"Your baby's intestines are lined with a thick, tarry substance known as meconium, which is your baby's first stool. It will normally not be seen until after birth and for the first few days of life. Occasionally your baby may leak a bit of stool just prior to birth into the amniotic fluid.

Lanugo, or fine hair on your baby, is darkening. If your baby is born near or after his or her due date, the lanugo will mostly be gone. The baby's fingernails are growing. By the time of birth, the nails may extend to the end of finger tips and some babies need their fingernails to be cut at birth.

Your baby weigh is at just over 450 grams." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Jr would not stay still during the ultrasound scan to see if Jr is a boy or a girl. In the last visit, Dr. Haris had said "Likely to be a girl." but not more as Jr just would not stay still for a clear scan. This time, Jr got smarter and kept both legs together and turned away, making the ultrasound scan for sex a complete failure! We suspect Jr is a little lady.

The size has also grown, and we are no longer able to see the whole of Jr in a single screen. Every screen is now a partial shot of either head/chest/abdomen/legs/shoulders. Being the active baby Jr is, most shots are "blurred" as Jr would be kicking during such medical check up.

According to records, the EDD remains in 3rd or 4th week of April 2010. I pray for courage and strength and not chicken out at the last minute! (Chickening out means opting for Cesarean section which takes longer time to heal compared to natural/induced birth. Also doubles the cost!).

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 26 December 2009:

BPD: 6.06 cm

Head circumference: 21.87 cm

Abdominal circumference: 18.45 cm

Femur length: 3.96 cm

Weight: 567 grams
**Retrospective Wisdom: Take a babymoon in the second trimester while the going is good.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 24

"Week 24 has a great significance for your baby. This is the week when neonatalogists would give the baby a reasonable chance of survival if he or she is born early. Typically babies born early don't go home until what would have been the original due date, which is more than 3 months away at this point.

Your baby is busy working on maturing his or her lungs to prepare for life outside your uterus. He or she is also layering more brown fat to help regulate body temperature at birth.

This week your baby is nearly 30 centimetres long and weighs a bit over 450 grams." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Does that mean Jr is overweight? Dr. Haris Hamzah seems to think Jr's growing at the average rate and that there is nothing to worry about.

I started doing the fetal kick counts daily at 10 pm. It is an easy process of counting movements of kick, roll, punch or flip within 30 minutes. Once the count reaches 10 movements, I am done until the next day. Often, Jr can reach 10 movements in less than 10 minutes. Fetal kick counts is supposed to be a daily routine until Jr is born.

The movements felt bigger now and Z managed to catch Jr doing "the Mexican wave" one evening. Sleeping on my back with double pillows and support under the knees still seem more comfortable than sleeping on my left side. I can almost never sleep on my right side for unknown uncomfortable reasons. Sometimes in the night, Jr would be kicking me so hard it wakes me up!

Perhaps the funniest pregnancy experience is that I started snoring audibly, even to myself. Often, I would wake up from sleep, disturbed by my own noise! It is a wonder how Z can sleep through my loud snoring. I have read that this is a normal incident of narrowing air passages so there is nothing to worry about, although a non-medicated nasal strip may be required to prevent snoring.

The second funniest pregnancy experience would be knocking into sides of furniture with my hips as I have yet to adjust to my wider and bigger body. So far, there is no real harm other than light bruising - still, I ought to be more careful!

I weighed in at 47 kg at the start of pregnancy and dropped to 45 kg during PukeFest. The good news was that I hit 55 kg at week 24. Mama, Dada, Z and Dr. Haris Hamzah were all very pleased with this healthy gain. Post week 20, almost all food look and taste good to me! Since I have been able to drink Evian again, I try to drink as much as I can tolerate. Normal boiled tap water, however, remain intolerable in terms of texture and taste. Go figure...
**Retrospective Wisdom: Normal weight gain can be shed off with breastfeeding. Do not over- indulge during pregnancy as some of my friends who did eat like there is no tomorrow for 9 months still carry the extra bulge for years.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 25

"This week, your baby reopens his or her eyes which have been closed since the eyelids fused around week 10. Your baby can now open and close his or her eyes at will. Your baby's bones are continuing to harden in a process called ossification and this will continue in the first year of life.

Your baby is continuing to grow, weighing in this week about 680 grams. The average birth weight for a baby is 3.5 kg. That tells you that your baby will put on the majority of his or her weight in preparation for birth in the next 15 weeks." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

One evening during the fetal kick count, Z and I saw a triangular bump moving across my belly. That must have been Jr's elbow, knee or shoulder. We were so excited at this new progress we sent Mama and Dada a text message as they were away visiting The Lloyds in Yorkshire, England. They replied immediately, sounding just as excited as we were of this new show and tell skill acquired by Jr.

This week, we also embraced the arrival of another nephew. Born in Yorkshire, England during the coldest winter in the last 30 years, Muhammad Amru Lloyd is definitely our new Little Man.

The sweet thing about being pregnant that I have noticed is that stores like Jusco One Utama at its supermarket level has a special line for pregnant women that is shared with the elderly. It is a much shorter queue and very merciful on my swelling feet and aching back! However, some ignorant fools folks  (read single, able bodied, young male and thus cannot normally be pregnant) in a rush may just queue up along this line because it is a shorter queue. Are you blind? Are you illiterate? Maybe both. Maybe mentally handicapped. Sigh.

On the other hand, there are also strangers who do not care very much for pregnant women. In Suria KLCC one day, my foot was knocked into by a young mother with her Combi stroller! Surely she was pregnant just a few months ago and can understand that her act of knocking into someone pregnant with a stroller is utterly rude of her (and painful for the victim)?! She did not even apologise *roll eyes and sigh*

**Retrospective Wisdom: Be mindful and polite when pushing the stroller. Please, at least, apologise profusely if you ram into someone's heels!**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 26

"Your baby weighs nearly 900 grams. In addition to gaining weight, he or she is also busy preparing for birth. The skin on your baby is changing from transparent to more opaque. This means that you can no longer see your baby's veins clearly through the skin." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

We were so thrilled this week to see and feel Jr's mexican waves and kicks! I was amazed by how this little life is growing inside me and has his/her own mood/character! Some painful kicks to my ribs could now be felt too, so not all fetal movements were "enjoyable".

The ultimate complaints would be swollen feet and pretty bad backaches! The ironing board has been lowered so that I am able to iron some clothes while sitting down with the TV and aircond turned on. I wonder if all pregnant women feel the same backache? As I am not on any medication since pregnancy, I could only seek relieve from warm rice sock and rubs to reduce the backache.

Sleeping at night would not count as troublesome AFTER I fall asleep. However, it has been quite difficult to find a comfortable position. There has been a routine of stuffing pillows behind my back on the right, under my belly on the left and under my knees to tilt me sideways facing left; I wondered where could I find a body pillow? Usually, I would still have to readjust my sleeping position if there were "objections" from Jr, signified by jabbing kicks. Jr would settle down once we both have found a comfortable position. Normal sleeping hours increased to about 10 hours per night, with a few couple more hours of mid morning or early afternoon naps. Dr. Haris did not seem concerned with this sleeping habit as blood tests do not show that I am anaemic.

I have been feeling lethargic easily. After a short trip to the supermarket/weeding in the garden/cooking/laundry I would be resting with my feet up to reduce any swelling and backache. Photos sent by Dada or Kakak of healthy and happy Muhammad, my youngest nephew just born in early January 2010 were very encouraging indeed!

The search for baby names continues as we were not able to know for sure if Jr is going to be a girl or a boy. The next visit to Dr. Haris Hamzah hopefully, will reveal Jr's sex!
**Retrospective Wisdom: We did not opt for the all dimension scan, just the conventional dopple and ultrasound scan. Maybe if we were so blessed with another pregnancy, we may just do so!** 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 27

"Your baby continues to grow and gain weight. The eyelids are able to open and close again. Your baby's skin is still very thin and wrinkled from living in the amniotic fluid, making it possible to see the veins underneath. As your baby grows and deposits more fat under the skin, the veins will become less visible and your baby's body will fill out." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

The routine monthly check up is going to be our last. From now on, fortnightly visits are required. Jr has been kicking and punching a lot this past week. Mexican waves, elbows and knees can be seen moving across my belly and sides.

At one point, the round ligament pain was so bad I thought I had suffered from placenta abruption as all the signs were so common! A frantic call to Dr. Haris and a soothing phone consult later, we concluded that the absence of blood meant that it was probably just round ligament pains.

How active is Jr exactly? Jr would score fetal movement count of 10 in less than 10 minutes. During the Doppler test to listen to Jr's heartbeat, one loud thud of a kick impressed Dr. Haris as "This is one active baby!" much to Z's glee.

It has been for a while now that we wanted to know if Jr is a boy or a girl for ease of shopping and selecting suitable names. It is the duty of Muslim parents to select meaningful and beautiful Muslim name for our offspring for it is by that name that he or she will be called upon on Judgment Day.

So this time round, we "made Jr promise to behave" and what joy overcame us when Dr. Haris said "Here's perfectly formed labia, make no mistake the baby is a girl!" The nurse was so excited and whispered to me "Nice things to buy for baby girl!". Overwhelming joy came over both Z and I that Saturday morning, knowing that other than our beautiful niece, S, the other kids are all boys! We do want a girl so much and for this gift, we thank Allah.

Also noted that Jr's head is already down but not engaged. That means the kicks at my rib will not end. The body scan was so cute that Z said "Looks like a teddy bear!"

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 23 January 2010:

BPD: 7.31 cm ( was 6.06 cm )

Head circumference: 25.18 cm ( was 21.87 cm )

Abdominal circumference: 22.63 cm ( was 18.45 cm )

Femur length: 5.19 cm ( was 3.96 cm )

Weight: 1.085 kg
**Retrospective Wisdom: We took a poll of suggested suitable Muslimah names (we also have a bank of names for male child, just in case) and picked one that continues to be well liked, has little chance of spelling out a bad word in its abbreviated form, not likely to sound like a bad word, easy and loud to call out at playgrounds etc. Oh, did I tell you that Muslim parents take this duty of naming the child suitably very seriously?**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 28

"At 28 weeks, your baby is growing toward maturity. Weighing more than 1kg and possibly 1.1 kg. Much of this added weight comes from more layers of brown fat.

This week is considered a huge milestone for babies born or threatening to be born early. If your baby were born this week forward, the chances of survival is very, very high. Though your uterus is still the ultimate in incubators, it is reassuring for many mothers-to-be to know that should preterm labour happen, the outcome is a long road but one that most likely will have a happy ending.

Your baby is growing eyelashes this week to match the body hair. Babies born before now have no eyelashes, which is a fact that surprises many parents." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Final trimester is here!

I started to feel as heavy as a whale when trying to waddle anywhere (the malls here are huge)! Carrying the baby in my now very round and large figure felt heavier as well. Backaches and swelling replaced nausea and vomiting of first trimester. It certainly felt like the honeymoon of second trimester was gone all too soon.

A spot on my left ribs would occasionally experience stab/pins and needles/pain especially when I lifted my left hand or when going to the toilet in the middle of the night. This stretching pain had been diagnosed by Dr. Haris before as nothing threatening but I took precautions nonetheless. I tried not to get up too suddenly, and not lift my left arm late at night. If I were to flush the toilet, I would speak to Jr. that the sound of flushing is coming on, so as to avoid the sudden kicks from within. It worked!

Right leg cramps increased when I had been lying on my back for too long. In contrast to the previous two trimesters, sleeping on the left side has become almost impossible. Jr. would wriggle and kick until I turn on the right or lie on my back. On some nights, Jr. would refuse to stop wriggling and kicking when I turned right too! As sleeping on the back is not good for my back, "negotiating" with Jr. would start.

Me: Baby, let Mummy sleep on the right side, ok?

Jr.: *wriggles and kicks* in a way that can be interpreted as a firm "NO".

Me: Baby, please please pretty please? Just for a while?

Jr.: *less wriggles and no kicks, more like trying to find a comfortable spot* in a way that can be interpreted as "OK, just for a while."

Me: Thank you, Baby!

15 minutes later, repeat the above.

Another 15 minutes later...

Me: Oh, you win, Baby! *sleeps on back*

1 hour later

Me: OUCH! Leg cramps!!

What does Z do?

*snore snore snore*

Lucky him!
**Retrospective Wisdom: Leg massages would have been nice! Also, communicating with the "cargo" does work so thankfully we did a lot of listening to calm music, chit chat when doing fetal kicks etc.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 29

"Your baby weighs more than 1.1 kg at this point. You may begin to notice that the big kicks and rolls that you felt earlier take on a different quality because your baby is likely to be head down with every passing week. You may also notice that you feel more action at the top of your uterus from the movement of tiny feet.

Your baby is busy producing about 0.5 litres of urine everyday, which is partially what makes up the amniotic fluid. You can even see babies urinate on ultrasound if you catch them at the right moment. Your baby is also producing his or her own red blood cells which come from the bone marrow." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Backaches and cramps! Swollen feet and tiredness! Is this really ending so soon? I think I will miss being pregnant and carrying Jr. everywhere despite my complaints so far...instead of counting how many week I have been pregnant, I am now counting how many more weeks to go before delivery - which is quite exciting too.

We finally got the changing table from IKEA named Gulliver in white after waiting for them to restock for a month plus! Z put it together one Friday night during a boring episode of Midsomer Murders and it looks good standing next to Z's white cot from 29 years ago.

Monica also very kindly purchased a pink bouncer and had it delivered to The House as I was not able to travel very far to get it from her Homey. Ellen's parcel had also arrived with goodies for Jr. I had the contents washed, dried and ironed. Thank you, girls! Those are very lovely and thoughtful gifts!

Shall I or shall I not purchase cow milk formula and bottles just in case I am not able to nurse? My vote is still no so as to avoid giving up on the first 3 days...What if I end up having emergency Cesarean? So many questions. Only time will tell...

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 6 February 2010:

BPD: 7.52 cm (was 7.31 cm)

Head circumference: 26.8 cm (was 25.18 cm)

Abdominal circumference: 23.98 cm (was 22.63 cm)

Femur length: 5.46 cm (was 5.19 cm)

Weight: 1.274 kg (was 1.085 kg)
**Retrospective Wisdom: Praying for breastmilk supply for the child works. Allah Provides. We still start with bismillahhirrahmannirrahim and end with alhamdulillah Thank You Allah! A former client advised me to read Surah Maryam, and it did me a lot of good in imagining a smooth delivery - what the mind can conceive it can achieve - very important to fill oneself with positivity during pregnancy!**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 30

"This week, your baby is 1.4 kg and 38 cm - and still growing! While your baby is no longer developing new organs or anything terribly exotic, he or she is still busy preparing to be born. Lung development is one of the last things that the baby works really hard to complete. Your baby's eyes are open, and the eyelashes are lengthening." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Joint aches! My fingers feel numb and stiff every morning. A few minutes will pass before I can fully feel my toes too. When I eventually stand up, I can feel stress pains on my soles from the additional 12 kg that I have gained since getting pregnant. Slight nausea has returned with only 2 or 3 actual vomiting incidents - I have recognised that nausea is mostly felt when I feel tired; as opposed to hormonal nausea of the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy. At least it is managable this time!

Jr has been busy playing nightly when I am sleeping. Sometimes, the kicks and punches are so pronounced and strong it wakes me up from my deep sleep.

This is the pre CNY week and the temperature has been above 32C daily. The heat added to relaxed membranes have caused me frequent nose and gum bleeds. A trip to the dentist ruled out any serious dental problems. It was interesting to note that during the scaling and cleaning session, Jr contorted my belly into funny shapes, amusing the nurses and dentist no end. They must have seen the limbs poking out of my maternity top too.

One of the drastic changes that is not hormonal that I made was to have my long hair cut to a short bob to cope with the heat and in preparation for a quick "wash and dry" this April. As much as I am not going to be overly confined during my confinement period, I will not risk the dreaded migraine that comes from "wash and let dry". This decision was arrived at only after 30 weeks of being pregnant, what I would consider as "having really thought through it". I know I have purchased/sold properties and changed jobs in much shorter time frame! But I digress..

The confinement planned by MIL so far involves:

1. Wash and dry hair during hottest time of the day with no exposure to cold air from fan or air cond.

2. Daily herbal soup as prescribed by the medical hall, removing only non-halal items.

3. Confinement food as per recipe book.

4. No walking up and down the staircase for at least 6 weeks/44 days unless totally required.

5. No squatting. No, no and no!

6. No heavy house chores save for taking care of baby.

Sounds like easy peasy, right? I absolutely love the fact that I am allowed to wash my hair on such a simple condition! It is a huge relief to learn from my hair stylist that simply by keeping my hair and scalp clean, I am being proactive in trying to reduce the chances of having the much dreaded post-natal hair loss caused by oily and blocked hair follicles!

Oh, T-10 weeks *tick tock*
**Retrospective Wisdom: I did observe 1, 2 and 3. Had to break 4 (walked up and down staircases in order to get The Little Girl to the hospital due to jaundice. I broke 5 because I had to magic mop under the bed due to dust around Week 4 of confinement. I broke 6 because I had to mop the bathroom floor dry after a shower. It was not fun being at The House. I should have stayed at The Apartment with a helper/confinement lady. My hair fell for about 4 months after delivery but it all grew back beautifully!**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 31

"Your baby now weighs more than 1.4 kg. The brown fat that has been deposited over the past few weeks has changed the look of your baby's skin from reddish colour to pink blush. Your baby is growing fingernails, just in time to be trimmed at birth. Be sure to pack a pair of baby fingernail clippers in the bag you plan to bring to the hospital or birthing centre." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

My birthday week! Z treated my swollen feet and ankles to a pair of red leather size 7 Scholl's as I could no longer fit into any of my slippers. I am hoping I will return to my pre-pregnancy show size of 6.5, or else all the fabulous Charles Jourdan heels and Ferragamo ballerina flats will have to go on Ebay for sale *really sad face*

After weeks of online research and window shopping, I found and bought 2 comfortable nursing bras from Mothercare that I can handle with one hand and anticipate that I can hold Jr with the other hand. Those with snap clips no matter how easy still require both hands! I will buy more of the "one hand free" nursing bras closer to week 38 as I am still growing. I have gone from 75B to 85C in the last 31 weeks! Perhaps, this is the only part of my body that has grown bigger and I will have no complaints if they do not return to pre-pregnancy size, like most women would agree with me *hehe*

I have thrown up after eating papaya again. Out of the two times that I have eaten papayas throughout pregnancy, I have thrown up on both occasions. Papayas are now banned from my diet! Apparently the papaya soup increases breastmilk supplies, hmmh.

The reverse is true of fish. Jr seems to really love salmon (grilled or in porridge), cod (in porridge or steamed) and torpedo (grilled and stuffed with sambal herbs). Other seafood like cuttlefish, prawns or mussels are well tolerated too. After a meal with fish or seafood, Jr will kick excitedly. We interpret this as appreciative because the same reaction can never be achieved after a meal of chicken or beef.

Both Z and I have started attending ante-natal classes since week 29. Our other classmates are also first time parents. It is quite interesting to learn of real life experiences from peers. Some can be very similar, some not!

We hit another milestone this week when asked to complete the labour pre-admission procedures at the hospital. Preferences were relayed to the hospital and we hope they will act on it when the time comes. We have put down our choice of single bed room with baby in the room (and not at the nursery on her own with other babies). It appeared that mothers usually leave the babies at the nursery with the nurses and only have the baby for feeding. I guess I have no idea how tired I would be when the time comes but I am sure that no matter how tired I get to be, I would still prefer for my newborn to be in the same room as I am (with the support of husband, parents-in-law and encouraging friends)!
The length of stay is estimated at 2 days for a normal birth. We'll see...I have been getting jitters about last minute Cesarean if I chicken out of epidural and normal birth. No matter how much encouraging materials I read and hearsay from birth experiences of friends, I guess it boils down to me and my self-confidence. Positive mantra to self *I am designed for giving birth*

The noticeable physical change this past 2 weeks seem to be the relaxation of pelvic joints and membranes. I feel the Jr's head resting in my pelvic area now and sometimes it gets a bit difficult/painful to walk. Since we have 9 more weeks to go, I am hoping that nature's way of preparing me for birth is right on cue. Dr. Haris is of the opinion that this is normal at week 31 and I should practice caution and enjoy the waddle as walking is not really the same from now on.

This week's check up is the first check-up where both my protein and glucose in urine test recorded negative results (meaning good!). All the previous tests recorded positive for protein (and got me anxious about pre-eclampsia risks) except the one on 6 February 2010, where I was positive for glucose (certainly got me anxious about gestational diabetes). All the resting and lessened activities have really paid off so I must continue to rest as much as possible (feel sorry about the weeds in the garden and un-ironed laundry in the basket). Something has to give...

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 19 February 2010:

BPD (that means from ear to ear): 8.21 cm (was 7.52 cm)

Head circumference: 28.26 cm (was 26.8 cm)

Abdominal circumference: 25.15 cm (was 23.98 cm)

Femur length: 5.76 cm (was 5.46 cm)

Estimated fetal weight: 1.476 kg (was 1.274 kg)
**Retrospective Wisdom: Keep your shoes and clothes you may return to your normal size, it took me 5 months. Papaya soup DID increase my breastmilk supply and I had to pump to relieve the heaviness.**

Retrospective Wisdom: Week 32

"At nearly 1.8 kg and 38 cm, your baby is beginning to fill out. For the next few weeks, your baby will really be putting on the weight in preparation for birth. If you looked at your baby's face via ultrasound earlier, it probably looked very skeletal, but not anymore. a lot of lung development has been taking place over the past few weeks to prepare the baby to breathe. The nervous system functions have also been maturing." - excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion by Robin Elise Weiss with Dr. Marcello Pietrantoni.

Sleepiness during day time ruled as I start to lose sleep at night. Interrupted sleep at night due to the need to empty my bladder, straighten my leg and saving it from cramping, shifting my back to side sleeping and occasional bad dreams every 2 hourly robs me of rest which somehow cannot be replenished even with the best of day time naps.

Swollen feet, especially on the right side, and carpal tunnel syndrome to right hand were also frequent but Dr. Haris said at this stage of gestation, it is quite normal. As long as my blood pressure stay within normal range, he dismisses this as discomfort and not real risks of pre-eclampsia. Discomfort includes headaches and sensitive gums, sigh!

Relaxin hormones have kicked in too. My pelvic area is sore from the relaxation and expansion. Sudden turns can be painful. Agility is out, waddling is in!

Morning nausea that tormented me in the first trimester has made its ugly reappearance too. The search for non-mint, not too fruity toothpaste is on again. The downside is, whatever worked in the first trimester does not seem to work in this third trimester so the search is on. Again.

Miraculously, the above "hassle" does not take away the joys of pregnancy in me. When Junior wriggles, turns, kicks or punches, it brings a certain inner contentment in me out. Seeing how well Junior is doing in gestation during our fortnightly ultrasound and check up reaffirms my love for this special human being in formation whom I cannot wait to meet!

Measurements taken by Dr. Haris Hamzah on 5 March 2010:

Bi Parietal Diameter (ear to ear): 8.45 cm (was 8.21 cm)

Head circumference: 28.74 cm (was 28.26 cm)

Abdominal circumference: 26.42 cm (was 25.15 cm)

Femur length: 6.18 cm (was 5.76 cm)

Weight: 1.753 kg (was 1.476 cm)
**Retrospective Wisdom: Perhaps this week would have been a good time to get busy with setting up the nursery and buying supplies instead of waiting till the very end as the energy level is higher at week 32 than 36. For me, at least.**